Putin and Erdoğan seek to enhance improving Russia-Turkey ties
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin ahead of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, September 3, 2016. REUTERS photoRussian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan backed on Sept. 3 the healing of relations between their nations, damaged by Ankara’s shooting down of a Russian war plane last year.
“There is still a lot to do in order to completely re-establish cooperation in all areas,” said Putin, after the bilateral meeting in Hangzhou on the eve of a G-20 summit in the eastern Chinese city on Sept. 3.
“Turkey is going through a difficult period, fighting against terrorism in the face of serious terrorist crimes,” he said.
Putin added: “I am sure that... we can go forward on our path of cooperation” once the situation in Turkey is “completely normalized.”
Turkey and Russia restored ties in June after Erdoğan sent a letter to Putin expressing regret over the shooting down of a Russian war plane on the Syrian border last November which had caused an unprecedented crisis in their relations.
The following month Erdoğan survived a failed coup attempted by a fraction inside the military, which the Turkish government accuses of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen to have orchestrated. In August the Turkish leader met Putin during a highly symbolic visit to Russia, his first foreign trip since the failed coup.
On Sept. 3, Erdoğan said he and Putin would take “certain measures” to move bilateral ties forward, notably on their joint Turkish Stream project, to pipe gas to Turkey and southern Europe, which was stalled by the diplomatic freeze.
Putin jokes over Turkish chief spy’s meeting attendance
During the meeting with Putin, Erdoğan said that the Turkish delegation had come to the meeting with a broad group, of which Putin paid special interest to the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan.
“We do not have anything to talk about if your chief intelligence officer is here,” said Putin, who has background in the former Soviet Union spy agency, the KGB. “He [Fidan] has already informed you of everything,” Putin continued.
The shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by a Turkish F-16 on the Syrian border last November saw Putin slap sanctions on Turkey and launch a blistering war of words that dealt serious damage to burgeoning ties.
The first Russian charter plane carrying tourists to Turkey since Moscow lifted its travel sanctions landed in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya on Sept. 2.